It has been awhile since a new kid on the social media block blew up this big. Well, just how massive is TikTok exactly? Let’s see the facts — TikTok has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times worldwide, and almost 50% of TikTok’s audience globally is under 34 years old, with 26% of them between 18 and 24 years. Gen Z thus forms the bulk of TikTok’s audience.

With its rich and engaging video content, as well as the freedom for self expression, diversity and authenticity, Gen Zs are drawn to this platform — scrolling and dancing to “savage love” day and night. In fact, with their spontaneous personality and their FOMO (fear of missing out), these young TikTokers are quick to respond to viral content, and jump on trending challenges. This is what makes TikTok challenges one of the main reasons why the platform is so popular.

There are many ways to discover such challenges and trending content. One common way is seeing the people you follow — including TikTok influencers — doing the challenge themselves. Another is to find it yourself under the Discover page, where you will see tabs like Top, Users, Videos, Sounds and Hashtags. The Top option usually showcases trending hashtags, challenges and content.

For brands seeking to break into this platform and with it, its young target market, TikTok challenges is one way to go — be it through a dance challenge, a makeup challenge, fashion challenge, entertainment challenge, or whatever works best for your brand. Realistically speaking, almost anything on that platform can be considered a challenge! But first, let’s talk about how TikTok’s algorithm works.

Let’s talk algorithm first

If you scrolled through TikTok, you would know that the For You page, or #fyp, is the easiest and best place to discover new content. As TikTok had said, “The system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors — starting from interests you express as a new user and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in, too”, which helps to form your personalised For You page. These factors include:

 

User interaction: the videos you like, share and comment, who you follow, and the content you create

Video information: captions, sounds and hashtags

Device and account settings: language preferences, country setting, and even device type

(Source: newsroom.tiktok.com)

 

Besides these, TikTok also interprets users’ interest based on how long they stay on a singular video, and whether they watch it till the end.

So apart from doing what everyone on TikTok is doing — tagging their videos with #fyp — and hoping that they will appear on users’ For You feeds, it’s going to take a lot more to actually get featured on that feed. If your brand is looking to have a presence on TikTok, understanding these factors can thus help in your brand’s content planning process.

If you want to find out more on how to utilise TikTok for your branding, check out one of our past articles “How To Brand & Sell On TikTok“.

What are TikTok challenges and why are they important?

What qualifies as a TikTok challenge? Either organic or sponsored, these challenges are often a combination of text, sound and movement. Usually, it takes an individual TikTok user to get a challenge rolling. Challenges that do take flight and explode in popularity tend to be led by TikTok influencers, or have seen TikTok influencers participating in them, thus sparking interest in fellow TikTok users to hop onto them as well. As part of their TikTok advertising strategy, many brands have also partnered with these influencers to roll out some of their own such branded challenges on the platform as well.

Why? Because hashtag challenges give you the chance to go viral, which boosts your visibility on TikTok. Furthermore, it helps the brand to create content through curating and reposting user-generated content (UGCs) on its own account. Featuring users’ videos in such a way usually leaves them feeling recognised and valued, which then strengthens their relationship with the brand. Besides, users on the platform are more often than not, already prepared to create (for them, that’s what they’re there for), and giving them a hashtag challenge is like giving content creators a new idea to roll with for their next content piece. Just roll with the angle, add the hashtag and voila — participating in a hashtag challenge is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

How to leverage on TikTok challenges

A TikTok challenge is therefore a great opportunity for brands of all sizes to run a campaign native to this app. So, let’s dive into how you can start leveraging on this!

 

Participate in an already popular TikTok challenge

One of the easiest and fastest ways for brands to leverage on TikTok challenges is to jump on what’s already trending. There is a reason why certain challenges or content are in trend — because it has managed to capture the interest and attention of many people, including others that probably just don’t want to miss out. So why not go where the people are already gathered?

Interestingly, one way to do this and yet, still show off your brand’s own content at the same time, is through popular dance challenges. While dancing to the song, type out bite-sized information or tips you wish to bring across, as visual copies placed around the screen. @mikiraiofficial, a TikTok user who is also a nurse, uses this method to encourage people to wear a mask, especially when this is not commonly practiced in America.

Source: TikTok

Another example is when people went crazy with the Dalgona coffee challenge and brands started to jump onto the bandwagon as well with their own version of the coffee, including Universal Music sg and their “how normal people vs psychotic people make the dalgona coffee“.

Source: TikTok

For the fashion side of TikTok, one famous challenge was the What I’d Wear challenge, where people showed off what they would wear for different occasions, in different TV shows, or simply, what they would wear for the day.

Source: TikTok

When participating in such challenges, try including your employees too because featuring faces behind the brand helps humanize the brand, and gives it a more authentic feel.

Apart from jumping on popular and trending hashtag challenges, you can also explore challenges that are relevant to your brand — such as what your brand sells or stands for. For instance, it would make perfect sense for a makeup brand to hop onto already trending makeup or beauty challenges. If your brand doesn’t have a specific challenge for your business category or industry, something generic like the #smallbusinesscheck works too. The purpose of this hashtag challenge is to give small businesses a platform to build brand awareness and increase reach, and the video content that is paired with this hashtag usually showcases the business’ behind-the-scenes.

Participating in these challenges allows your brand to ride on their popularity. So hit TikTok’s Discover page and find out what’s trending!

 

Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags

If said three times, you know how important it is. One of the most effective ways to make your brand seen on the platform, is through the use of hashtags. Similar to Instagram, users can search for new content through hashtags, so using the right and relevant hashtags can help your brand open doors to more views, higher engagement and potential followers.

Insert the #voguechallenge here. What’s so hot about this trending hashtag is that now with Vogue’s TikTok filter, anyone can show off their amazing looks with the iconic Vogue logo as if they were on the cover of a Vogue magazine. This is as opposed to reality, where Vogue only features a selected group of high-end celebrities or models on their covers. Even Singaporean entrepreneur Jamie Chua had her take on this challenge.

Source: TikTok

 

Create your own challenges

Or to top it all off, create your very own hashtag challenge. Honestly, this is easier said than done, because you need to create something enticing enough that will prompt TikTok users to actually do the challenge. This means a lot of research, creativity and effort is required to make it successful. Hard, but totally worth it when done right because this could be the key to your brand going viral — through your very own branded challenge!

Hollister Co (HCO.), an American retail brand owned by Abercrombie & Fitch Co., recently rolled out their #MoreHappyDenimDance hashtag challenge in July to encourage people to dance in the perfect pair of jeans, comfortably and confidently. To promote this challenge, they paired up with the famous TikTok sisters — Charli and Dixie Damelio, both of which have a huge following on TikTok. HCO even created their own branded audio for this challenge, and named it after Charli and Dixie. Users who participated in this challenge also stood a chance to win a Virtual Meet & Greet with the girls, which made the challenge even more appealing.

Source: TikTok

Time to start TikTok-ing

Now is the time to get creative and start planning! As mentioned, creating your own TikTok challenges can be helpful in driving awareness, engagement and fun on the platform. So here are some guidelines to help you through the process.

     1. Get inspiration

During the research phase, it is good to look at examples from other brands — to see which are some of the past challenges that have performed well, and which others that did not. Try and pinpoint what exactly made them successful or otherwise, so as to get a sense of what kind of challenges appeal to your target audience on TikTok, and see how it aligns with your brand and objectives. Gather all the necessary information to help you start conceptualising your own challenge. After this, start going into the details — What will be the name of the challenge? What would be the accompanying hashtag? Has this hashtag been used before for a previous TikTok challenge? What audio track do you want to use? An existing, popular track on TikTok? Or an original branded track? If it’s a dance challenge, what dance styles are ‘in’ now? What moves should you include? Start choreographing!

     2. Define clear rules

When you are launching your challenge page, include a clear and succinct description on what the purpose of the challenge is, and how users can take part in it. As an example, take a look at how the #LetsFaceIt challenge set up their clear guidelines during the Covid 19 situation. For them, they wanted people to embrace the challenge by thinking of ways to feel beautiful even with a mask on. If your challenge comes with an incentive/prize and a ‘closing date’, be sure to indicate that clearly in the description as well.

Source: TikTok

     3. Promote it

Lastly, promote your hashtag challenge. As TikTok is primarily a human-centered video platform featuring the users behind their phones/cameras, you will need a few individuals to actually get the ball rolling. This is where influencer marketing comes in. Source out TikTok influencers whose personalities you feel aligns with your brand and its challenge. In fact, TikTok has a Creator Marketplace that is home to a community of TikTok influencers in which brands can tap on (contact us to find out more!). Ask them to create and upload a challenge video with your branded hashtag, and encourage their followers to join them in doing likewise.

As you have seen from the earlier example above, HCO made sure to use two of the most followed TikTokers to jumpstart their challenge, which was a great first move. With Charli and Dixie promoting this challenge, almost 100 million followers got a chance to know about this challenge.

Today, TikTok’s massive influence is still growing, and not something brands would want to miss. To break through on this platform, TikTok challenges are the way to go. So keep track of the latest trends, and don’t be afraid to use them to get started. As TikTok’s official media partner, we will be more than happy to help take on the challenge (pun intended) of growing your brand on TikTok, so hit us up if you are interested!

 

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Hero image: Solen Feyissa, Unsplash

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